Blues midfield, star forward Curnow shine in key win

Anna Harrington |

Charlie Curnow, who kicked four goals in Carlton’s 29-point win, takes a mark against Gold Coast.
Charlie Curnow, who kicked four goals in Carlton’s 29-point win, takes a mark against Gold Coast.

Carlton coach Michael Voss has hailed his “proud” midfield after they dominated Gold Coast to steer the Blues back into the AFL’s top eight.

The Blues’ poor goal kicking and failure to capitalise on dominance around the ball in the first half almost proved costly at Marvel Stadium on Saturday.

But Carlton broke away in the third term, with two big contested marks and goals from Charlie Curnow ensuring the contest stayed in their favour, before kicking away for a 15.12 (102) to 11.7 (73) win.

Curnow’s four second-half goals, plus four from Zac Williams, did the job in attack in front of 39,597 fans.

Zac Williams.
Zac Williams kicked four goals in Carlton’s comfortable win over the Suns. (Rob Prezioso/AAP PHOTOS)

Patrick Cripps did a power of work through midfield, racking up 31 disposals and 13 clearances, while Sam Walsh (32 disposals) and ruckman Tom De Koning (25 touches, 10 clearances) were prolific.

The Blues won uncontested possessions 270-156, contested possessions 132-11 and clearances 44-32.

“Our mids are a very proud group and lowered our colours in that area last week to a pretty handy team (Sydney), to be fair, that are proven against anybody right now. They’re stacking up well,” Voss said.

“But there were some key things we needed to be able to get after last week. 

“Most of it was about our heat on the ball, and probably their ability to be able to extricate it without enough pressure on the ball. 

“The best way to be able to beat teams that build pressure is to create your own, and that’s something that we didn’t bring to that game … (but) it was something that when we needed our turn (today) – we did.”

It was a disappointing showing from the Suns after their thumping of Geelong nine days earlier.

“The reality is, if you get beaten by 22 in contested ball, and the clearance numbers were out of control as well, we were probably up against it,” Gold Coast coach Damien Hardwick said. 

“Their midfield beat ours – that’s what it came down to.

“We knew their strength as a midfield. We went up against it and we lowered our colours today.”

Suns’ Mac Andrew (10 marks) was dominant early but was ultimately eclipsed by Curnow, while Ben King booted three goals for the visitors.

Charlie Curnow of Carlton and Mac Andrew of the Suns.
Mac Andrew (r) was dominant early for the Suns but was eventually overshadowed by Charlie Curnow. (Rob Prezioso/AAP PHOTOS)

Blues fans were incensed as the home side received just four free kicks across the opening three terms, with Carlton to speak to the AFL about the situation.

Gold Coast suffered a pre-game blow, with in-form Sam Flanders ruled out through illness and replaced by Alex Davies.

Carlton, who moved up to sixth with the win, smashed the Suns around the ball early and kicked the first three goals of the game – with Williams snagging two.

But amid Carlton’s poor goal kicking, the Suns didn’t go away until the Blues started to convert in the third quarter before putting the game to bed in the final term.

“It was a matter of persistence, and (to) keep believing in the way we were playing,” Voss said.

The Blues (7-4) visit high-flying Port Adelaide on Thursday, while Gold Coast (6-5) host Essendon at People First Stadium next Sunday.